When I was in my early twenties, I was feeling confused about my career path, I had suffered a bad romantic breakup, and I was, in general, feeling lost. While Ben and Jerry were my usual go-to life coaches (big on quick, feel-good approaches, limited in their long-range impact planning), I decided to try an out-of-the-box, out of this world tactic: I went to see a psychic.
As a professional coach, I tend to ask my clients more questions than give answers. As a Jewish coach, you have to imagine that the proportion of questions to answers is significantly out of whack. But it works – for me, and for my clients. It works because I believe that, more often than not, we have the creativity, resourcefulness and reserves we need to figure out what we need, and even how to get there. (Do I ever just give advice? What do you think? Sorry – old habits die hard.
If you’re reading this on an iPhone, iPod touch, iPad or other Apple product, take a minute to look at the back of your device. Don’t worry, I’ll wait. What did you notice? Chances are you noticed that it was sleek, simple yet sophisticated – in other words, it looked and felt like an Apple product, even from behind. That’s no accident. The late Steve Jobs was taught by his father, Paul, that when you make something, you need to make sure that the back is as beautiful as the front, even if nobody sees it.
Henry Winkler (aka “The Fonz”) once commented: “Assumptions are the termites of relationships.” He makes a good point. Whether it’s a personal or professional relationship, the more that we guess about why someone behaved in a certain way – and then proceed based on our conjectures – the more trust is eaten away. Over time, the foundations of our relationships start to rot, until they crumble completely. And as I’m sure Winkler would contend, that’s not cool.
As difficult as it may be for many of us to give or get feedback, let’s be thankful that we don’t live in Biblical times. Think about it: when God wanted to let His people know that He was unhappy with their behavior, He didn’t typically sit them down for a heart-to-heart. He didn’t share his observations about what was working and what wasn’t, and then request a change in performance to be observed over a period of time, and then re-evaluated.
According to the Shocher Tov, a book of biblical commentaries, “If you behold a custom set by your forefathers, change it not!” In other words, if it was good enough for Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Rachel, Sarah, Rebecca and Leah, it should be good enough for us, right?
When my mother- and father-in-law brought up the subject of taking a family vacation over the winter school break, my husband Michael and I weren’t surprised. We have come to expect that we will be invited to join my in-laws someplace warm and tropical, where the only rule is that if you want a strawberry daiquiri, you have to swim up to the swim-up bar to get it yourself so that you get a little exercise.